Did Christians Really
Some textbooks teach kids that in
the 1800s in pioneer America, people in power purposely gave Native Americans
blankets infected with the deadly smallpox virus as a form of genocide - to
wipe them out so that the whites could take over.
Reportedly, this atrocious assertion
is commonly taught in Muslim schools overseas, and adults and children alike
really believe it. It creates hatred and mistrust of the United States. And
that's dangerous, especially in these days of threatened biomedical terrorism
such as unleashing an epidemic of anthrax and other diseases.
But it's a lie.
Apparently, the implication that
there was widespread, deliberate spreading of smallpox to kill off Native
Americans was made up in the 1990s by disgraced University of Colorado ethnic
studies professor Ward Churchill. Churchill, made famous by a statement
comparing the victims of the 2001 Twin Towers bombings as being like "little
Eichmanns," was later fired by his university for various forms of misconduct.
Unfortunately, the smallpox-blanket lie persists despite Churchill's being
There has been ample scholarship
indicating that thousands or even millions of Native Americans did indeed die
from diseases that probably were brought to North and South America by European
colonists. But the infection was accidental and couldn't be helped; the native
people did not have natural, genetically-built up immunity to various diseases,
But the idea that widespread,
deliberate murder of Indians through smallpox blankets was fabricated and
greatly exaggerated, based apparently on a letter written by a British captain
named Ecuyer in the 1700s. He evidently did give two blankets and a
handkerchief that contained the deadly smallpox virus to Indians at Fort Pitt,
in what is now Pittsburgh, Pa., in an attempt to kill them. That was during the
French and Indian War. But that is the only piece of evidence, as inconclusive
as it is, that "germ warfare" was conducted on purpose against Native
Americans, and it wasn't by United States citizens at any rate.
It might be worth a look in your
child's history or social studies textbook, to see if this fabrication is
repeated. If you have a friend who is Muslim or from a foreign country, you
might want to send these references in an attempt to debunk a harmful
stereotype if it is there. You just never know if the truth might reduce the
enmity between people, and prevent an act of hatred that could kill and hurt
For an interesting look at smallpox in the 1800s, see:
More about Ward Churchill and
allegations of misconduct, fabrication and plagiarism: